A Hunt for the Cayucos Shipwreck
A couple of months ago, after visiting the tiny town of Harmony on a rainy day, my mom and I decided to try and find the Cayucos Shipwreck.
On July 2018, 2017 a commercial fishing vessel named The Point Estero ran aground near the southern tip of Estero Bluff State Park. After the Coast Guard removed all hazardous materials they decided to forego a salvage operation, and leave the boat in its resting place.
I had seen amazing photographs from several other Central Coast photographers and was curious to see (and photograph) The Point Estero for myself. The only problem was not knowing exactly where it was, or if that area of the bluffs was easily accessible.
My mom and I set off down Hwy 1 keeping a close eye on the bluffs for any sign of a shipwreck. Just before we were about to pass into Cayucos, and give up hope of finding our treasure, we glimpsed the top of a mast peeking over the cliffs!!
We pulled off the road and found that there was a parking area with a path down to the area where The Point Estero was located. We had found our Cayucos Shipwreck!
Did I mention it was raining?
We decided to put the weather sealing on our cameras to the test and, with one umbrella between us, we did the clay mud slip and slide down the hill the edge of the bluffs. Luckily neither of us ended up on our backsides!
I desperately wanted to go down to the beach to get a closer look (and better photos) but it was simply too hazardous. As it was, we stayed back several feet from the edge of the bluff because we were not sure of our footing in the slick mud.
We took turns holding the umbrella so each of us could set up our cameras, tripods, ND filters, etc.. In between shots, we covered our cameras with recycled grocery bags. All of this was accomplished with at least 2 inches of mud stuck to our shoes!! It was comical, to say the least.
We didn’t stick around long, just enough time to grab a few shots, have the rain soak through our coats and decide to come back again another time. We packed up our gear and slipped our way through the mud back to the car.
It was an unforgettable experience! I’m so glad we took the time to find the Cayucos Shipwreck, and it was even better that I got to share that bit of fun with my mom!
About the Photo
The photograph above was capture with my Canon 6D and 16-35mm f/4 L lens (25 seconds at f/7.1, ISO 100) and processed in Lightroom.
I had hoped to get closer to the shipwreck, which was the reason I’d chosen to use my 16-35mm lens. In hindsight, I wish I had us my 70-200mm lens instead. However, I wasn’t about to change lenses in the rain!
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Good story and photo. While the 70-200 mm lens would certainly produce some great close-ups, the 16-35 mm lens gives a good perspective of exactly the terrain where the wreck is beached, a perspective that would probably not have occurred with the longer lens. Great job.
Hi Nick – Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the photo & story. The perspective would have definitely been different with a longer lens – I am glad I got this shot. Now I just need to go back on a non-rainy day, climb down the bluff, and get better close up photos. :) I hope to do that this summer!
now i want to go to the boat and poke around. Getting a shot at water level be awesome also. Great shot. The only wrecks i see are old run down houses and buildings
Hi Charles – If you find yourself in the area, you should check it out! Next time I’m there hopefully the ground will be dry and I can climb down the bluff for that water level shot. :)
Did you ever go back to explore? I just got back from a sunset shoot on Monday evening? The ship is a lot rustier than it was last year obviously and is losing some of the details that you could make out last year (I went briefly last summer as well). But on Monday I got down to the beach during high tide by walking along the bluff to the left of the wreck, walking down into the 15-20 foot ravine (there’s a path which is no problem if you have good grip on your shoes) and then following the ravine out onto the beach
Hi Nikhil – I haven’t made it back to the shipwreck yet, but I will one of these days! I’m sure time and the saltwater are taking their tolls. I’d love to see the images you got. Drop a link if you get a chance :-)
I’m a photographer from San Luis Obispo, and would love to photograph this shipwreck. I’m guessing it is off of Estero Bluffs. Any suggestions of how to find it? Thanks!
Hi Jim – Its pretty easy to find. If you’re heading north on hwy 1, take the very last exit into Cayucos, then take a pretty immediate right into a dirt parking lot. From there you’ll likely see the mast peeking above the bluffs. There are trails to hike down to get closer. If it is low tide and you want to go down to the rocks/beach, then you’ll need to take the trail on the north end of the parking lot, and then walk down. You can scramble up and down the ravine near the bottom as well, but its a bit tougher than just taking the other trail! Have fun and if you post the photos online, please share a link! I’d love to see what you capture!
Hi, Angela, I posted a photo of the shipwreck on Instagram. My account name is: jimj8181. Let me know what you think.
Great shot, Jim! Thanks for sharing! I followed you on IG – I’m @angandrieux. I look forward to seeing more of your work!
Thanks, Angela, I’m a retired hospital pharmacist (retired last April), and worked at both French & Sierra Vista in SLO. So I’ve taken up an old hobby of photography. I love our area for landscape photography. Any favorite spots locally that you enjoy? I love your shots!
Great article! I’m headed over there this weekend and hope to capture a few images!
Thank you, Mike! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. If you post your images online, please feel free to share the link! I’d love to see your perspective on the shipwreck.
Cayucos area has a large amount of clay in the soil so when wet, it gets very slimy and slick.
Careful walking and driving might end up on honorable posterior.